October 25, 2006

The Hidden Family by Charles Stross

woman walking down a street toward a shop with three spheres as a signSecond book in Stross's Merchant Princes series. In this volume, Miriam begins exploring another alternate world and opening it to commerce while in the other two known alternate Earths various and sundry plots thicken. Miriam continues to be hyper-competent (and hyper-lucky) to a degree that strains credulity. I suspect these books might be enjoyed more by people who are more Economics-geeky than I am. Still, Stross can spin a yarn interestingly enough to keep the pages flipping by. This volume has some nice character building for some of the minor women characters from the first book including quite a few interesting revelations about Miriam's foster mother.

Posted by jeffy at 10:31 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

October 22, 2006

Lost Glove #102

September 13. On the bridge of lost gloves (stretch of SE 56th Street where it crosses Issaquah Creek. I have seen more lost gloves in this 100-yard stretch of road than anywhere else.)

Posted by jeffy at 09:51 PM in Lost Gloves | Comments (0)

Lost Glove #101

Back on September 7th.

Posted by jeffy at 06:50 PM in Lost Gloves | Comments (0)

Dzur by Steven Brust

big black cat taking a swipe at a smaller dragony thing (jhereg)I can't think of another author who writes books that are as entertaining as Steven Brust's. Vlad Taltos, the protagonist of the series this is the tenth volume in, is a flawed, sarcastic, intelligent character who has had some significant growth over the course of the series while remaining fundamentally himself. This volume is lighter on plot than most of the books, but it makes up for it with a whole stack of in-jokes and a lovely framing device in the lush descriptions of a multi-course meal that start each of the seventeen (of course) chapters.

I should probably read it again cause I went pretty fast and by the end I completely couldn't understand why it was necessary for Vlad to enlist the assistance of Vera to get out of the fix he was in. Seemed like overkill.

But the book is fun and brings back some beloved characters and moves the story along. Definitely not the place to start, so catch up on the series before you hit this volume.

Posted by jeffy at 06:29 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

October 20, 2006


cat licking catnip-filled toy

That thing Alice is licking on is called a "Hot Cats", it's a fabric tube filled with cat nip. We've had that particular one for almost four years and they still seem to like it. Amazing.

Posted by jeffy at 11:37 PM in Cat Blogging | Comments (0)

October 18, 2006

The Family Trade by Charles Stross

woman in modern clothes walking towards medieval castleMiriam is a journalist reporting on corporate startups and venture capital. With the help of research assistant Paulette, she uncovers a massive money laundering operation. Rather than making her career, the discovery gets her fired and possibly stalked. If that weren't enough, her adoptive mother gives her a box of things relating to her birth mother. Among those things is a locket with a strange pattern inside. When Miriam examines it closely she finds herself abruptly transported from her cosy home in Boston to a cold dark wood.

In over her head in two worlds is about the size of it. But Stross's Miriam is a strong swimmer.

I was very distracted in the first few chapters when I wasn't sure whether the setting was England or New England. Mostly it seemed like the US, but there was just enough ambiguity ("Cambridge" doesn't narrow it down for example) and misplaced British terms to keep throwing me off. Also I think I was reading it too sporadically to get into the setting.

Miriam is one of those hyper-competent protagonists who are fun to read about but hard to believe. Fortunately Stross writes a tale with enough mysteries and a fast enough pace to distract you from the implausibility.

Posted by jeffy at 08:28 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

October 17, 2006

Two years later

This was supposed to go up back at the beginning of September, but here is what's left of lost glove #23 two years after I first saw it.


It was still glove-shaped until just a couple days before this picture was taken which is fairly remarkable since it's not in some out of the way spot, it's right in the middle of the driveway for I-90 Motor Sports and must get run over at least a couple times a day.


Here's what it looked like last year.

Posted by jeffy at 11:49 PM in Lost Gloves | Comments (0)

October 14, 2006


cat planted on human
I wasn't feeling well when I got home from work last night so I laid down for a while and soon had this furball planted on my chest. Feline therapy.

Posted by jeffy at 04:34 PM in Cat Blogging | Comments (0)

October 08, 2006

Lost Glove #100


Well, here we are in triple-digits. Only took 3-1/2 years. This was on Juniper behind Gilman Village back on September 6th.

I was thinking about stopping when I hit 100, but I've already got a few more waiting to be posted, so I'll have to pick some other more arbitrary number if I ever manage to kick the habit.

Posted by jeffy at 11:18 PM in Lost Gloves | Comments (0)

Frogs Into Princes by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

fancifully-dressed prince gesturing at really big frogA friend of a friend suggested this as a good introduction to the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). The book is the transcript of a three-day seminar taught by the authors. The seminar was attended by mental health practitioners, so even apart from the content of the lectures, it's fascinating being a fly on the wall for such a gathering.

Bandler and Grinder call themselves modellers. They observe people who are successful in a domain and try to determine what it is that they're doing that makes them succeed. Once they figure that out they teach others how to use those methods. Seems like a good idea.

They're full of examples of ways in which the field of psychology/psychiatry fails badly in its supposed goal of making people happier and more effective members of society. As an alternative they lay out a system based on using the patient's sub-conscious mind to change their behavior. The methods are very close to hypnotism, but without most of the stereotypical baggage of that practice. There are no trances, they just talk to the patient, pay careful attention to the patient's conscious and unconscious reactions, and just tweak their psyche.

I haven't tried it, but I have friends who have had positive results from working with NLP practitioners. Seems pretty interesting. I might give it a try one of these days.

The book is out of print. I found a copy at the Seattle Public Library.

Posted by jeffy at 10:27 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

The Armies of Memory by John Barnes

floating spheres against rocky pinnaclesDon't go anywhere near this book unless you're caught up on the series. (A Million Open Doors, Earth Made of Glass, The Merchants of Souls) Earth Made of Glass especially has significant bearing on the events here.

The book starts off with spy/agitator/troubador Giraut Leones performing a concert in celebration of his 50th birthday, and nearly getting killed in the process. Many more assassination attempts follow. It seems like the plot moves along less in this volume than in the previous volumes. The dust jacket claims that this is the "Climactic Conclusion" of the series, but if so, it's a pretty unlikely conclusion if you ask me. But I never believe a word I read on a dust jacket anyway.

Posted by jeffy at 09:24 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross

bright star overwhelming orange backgroundDang, I'm letting these go too long. Finished this some time back in August. It's connected to Singularity Sky, but not a sequel really, just some common characters who you'll recognize if you've read the previous book.

The main character is Wednesday, a 16-year-old goth girl who lives on a space station. Wednesday has a friend named Herman she has never seen. Herman speaks to her sometimes (through a communications implant if I remember correctly), and has taught her all sorts of useful skills mostly related to sneaking around the station without getting caught. As the book opens, the station is in the final stages of evacuation prior to the arrival of the wave front of the violent and unexpected explosion of a nearby(-ish several light years away) star. Wednesday isn't on the escape ship, instead she's still on the station running away from a robotic police dog set on capturing her. Why's she still on the station? Only Herman knows.

I can't remember too many of the details of the plot, but even if I could, they'd be spoilers and I wouldn't tell you. Wednesday basically continues on the run for the full length of the 400+ page book. She picks up some more enemies set on her destruction as well as a few allies in addition to the mysterious Herman. Most of the motive for all this is related to the fact that the exploding star didn't explode by accident, someone set it off.

It's a fun little espionage thriller.

Posted by jeffy at 08:22 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

October 06, 2006

Hello down there

cat looking down quizzically at what must be a prone photographer

Posted by jeffy at 11:38 PM in Cat Blogging | Comments (0)

October 02, 2006

Lost Glove #99

garden glove beckoning you toward snow cones

See, this one I know exactly where that is. It was taken at the Issaquah Farmer's Market back on 8/26. The people in the background are waiting to buy snow cones. This glove seems to think I should have joined them. (I didn't)

Posted by jeffy at 07:42 PM in Lost Gloves | Comments (0)